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Harford County man sues fraternity for hazing

A Harford County man is suing the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, alleging he was hazed when he joined the fraternity's Coppin State University chapter in 2013.

Johnny Powell II of Havre de Grace alleges in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Prince George's County Circuit Court that officers with Coppin's Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity chapter "punched, hit, slapped, caned and paddled" him numerous times during the spring 2013 pledging process, causing him to end up in the hospital.

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Powell was a Stevenson University student at the time and pledged Coppin's chapter as a first step toward establishing a chapter at his university, according to his lawsuit.

He is seeking $4 million in damages and is represented by attorney Jimmy Bell, who also represents former Bowie State University student Kevin Hayes, who sued Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity in December with similar allegations. Hayes is seeking $3 million in damages.

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Powell names the Philadelphia-based fraternity and several current and former officers with the Coppin chapter and the Baltimore-area alumni chapter in his lawsuit.

Ernest H. Brown, Kappa Alpha Psi's national executive director, said Tuesday he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it. Officials

Tiffany Jones, a spokeswoman for Coppin, said in a statement that the university "does not tolerate or condone any incident of hazing or abuse and takes accusations of such seriously." Coppin is not named in the lawsuit.

Powell claims in the lawsuit that he was forced to drink alcohol, had garlic powder poured in his mouth and was made to do push-ups with beer bottle caps under his hands. He also was forced to stand in ice water while reciting information the fraternity, the suit states. The hazing allegedly took place at different locations in Baltimore and in Prince George's County.

The lawsuit states that Powell spent five days in MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in Essex being treated for injuries he suffered during hazing.

Powell was eventually made a member of the chapter, but was ostracized and has not participated in fraternity activities, Bell said. Powell abandoned his idea of starting a chapter at Stevenson and graduated in 2014 with a business degree.

Hayes, meanwhile, has turned his attention to the Maryland General Assembly and is lobbying legislators for increased penalties for criminal convictions of hazing, Bell said. Hayes wants sentences for criminal convictions of hazing to include a mandatory weekend in jail.

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